2017-12-07 / News

Graymont and LSSU Distribute $95,000 in Grants

By Erich T. Doerr

The Graymont mining company has worked in partnership with Sault Ste. Marie’s Lake Superior State University (LSSU) to distribute $95,000 in grants to local organizations and governments as part of the company’s Community Development Fund. This second year for the fund is the first in which Graymont has partnered with the university. They received 19 applications and funded seven grants.

“It’s a great day at LSSU when we can be involved with projects that are so beneficial to the Eastern Upper Peninsula,” Associate Dean for the College of Professional Studies and Outreach Eric Becks said.

Graymont created its Community Development Fund as part of the approval process for a land transaction with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in March 2015. The fund is intended to benefit those living and working in the communities located around the land Graymont acquired by providing money to support small businesses, schools, human services, road and infrastructure improvements, conservation efforts, recreational opportunities, and health initiatives.

The company approached LSSU to help with the program and Mr. Becks said he is excited about its prospects. The mining company partnered with the Mackinac Economic Alliance to distribute the first round of grants last year.

Mr. Becks, who oversees a process under which a committee reviews the grant applications, said the first year of the Graymont-LSSU alliance has gone well. Each recipient has received 90% of its grant money at this point, he said, and can get the remainder after presenting a final report on its use of the funds – a common practice among grants programs.

Trout Lake Township received a $15,000 grant toward upgrading of the township park campground. Township Supervisor Helen Fischer said this is the first time the municipality has received a grant from Graymont.

“We’ve been working about four years to get this done,” Mrs. Fischer said. “I think we can look forward to this going ahead, with the help of people like Graymont.”

The township park campground has water, electrical, and bathhouse facilities for those who use its 80 sites. Its grant funding will be used to upgrade the electrical distribution center and install five new 20-amp electrical pedestals to provide power to campsites and accommodate their growing use by recreational vehicles. The township board is preparing to take bids for the project, after receiving the grant funds in September.

Mrs. Fischer said the money will supplement township spending and help start the process, which will take years to complete. The upgrades are part of an effort to draw more visitors to the community, whose Fourth of July celebration continues to be a major event each summer. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians previously donated money for a ball diamond constructed on township property.

The Engadine Consolidated Schools received $15,000 toward its Whole Child effort to help children to become well rounded, beyond academics, in areas such as the arts, athletics, and community involvement. The school district seeks to engage its 265 students from Garfield, Hudson, Hendricks, Newton, and Portage townships in lifelong learning that helps them become productive members of society.

“We want to serve them from early childhood through adulthood,” Superintendent Angie McArthur told The St. Ignace News.

The Graymont grant will pay for renovating latrines at the Frank Salzeider Community Recreation Area, where the widely-used school football field hosts Engadine Eagles football and track competition, serves as a neutral site for other football games, and is the site of school physical education classes and community soccer league games. The field hosts baseball games in years when Engadine fields a team in the Tahquamenon Falls Little League.

The schools submitted a five-year plan for the field to Graymont last year and received a 2016 grant to make safety upgrades to its bleachers. The school has used portable toilets at the field because latrines there have been out of service for about 20 years. With the grant, and money from a local donor, the schools razed the latrines, will install a new septic system in the spring, and will build latrines containing eight new toilets by the end of June 2018.

“I’m greatly appreciative of this investment that Graymont is making in the community,” Mrs. McArthur said. “Through this foundation, a lot of projects have been able to have immediate results.”

She said the Whole Child program includes a yoga class from Michigan State University Extension’s Mindfulness Series and the school hopes to start a parenting class.

Hudson Township received $19,805 that will be combined with other fundraising for a fireproof township records room and expansion of its fire hall garage, which no longer can house all of the fire department’s equipment.

Hendricks Township received $25,000 for remodeling the fire hall to provide township offices and a fireproof records room. Funding from the grant also will cover plumbing work.

The nonprofit West Mackinac Health Association received $8,695 for new digital equipment to replace X-ray machinery that uses films at its West Mackinac Dental Clinic.

The Michigan Karst Conservancy received $1,500 for a new informational display about the history of the Filborn Quarry that once operated on the property the conservancy now owns. It will replace a weatherdamaged display that is at least two decades old.

Engadine’s Feneley-McNeil-Nesbit American Legion Post 290 is receiving $10,000 for materials volunteers will use to replace the building’s old, shingled roof with a new metal roof.

Mr. Becks said the third annual Graymont grant application process is to be held early in 2018. The fund accepted grant applications from May to July last year, after a late start owing to the process involved in setting up the new partnership after Graymont approached the university with its proposal. There will be at least one round of grants each year to municipalities, other units of government, social agencies, members of local communities, and small businesses. Additional information can be found online at lssu.edu/business-engagement center/graymont-communityeconomic development-fund.

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